We've just been treading water here, to use an analogy from our Children's Water Safety & Drowning Prevention Program. Waiting for the country to open up to foreign visitors, both tourists and long-time seasonal visitors. The foreign residents who left in February-March to escape the "smoky season" are gradually trickling back in as their visas expire and they can apply for new ones in their current countries of of residence -- different visas that are acceptable for entry, along with the proper insurance and test results. But the economic toll in tourist-dependent Chiang Mai has been great and continues to grow as more businesses throw in the towel. It will be a long time before tourists return.
However, we've been able to congratulate ourselves that Covid-19 hasn't been in the area. That is until this weekend. A Thai "karaoke hostess" returned to Chiang Mai after working in Burma for a month. She didn't want to be bothered with the mandatory two-week quarantine, so she crossed into Thailand illegally, along with at least two friends who have been admitted to hospitals in Chiang Rai. Prior to hospitalization for Covid-19, the Chiang Mai resident visited the largest mall in northern Thailand, several times for meals, shopping and a movie. The Central Festival Mall Christmas tree is pictured above. Now massive contact tracing, testing, facility shut-downs and cleaning efforts are underway. Remember, Thailand has had just sixty deaths from Covid-19 and fewer than 4000 cases. This is a Big Deal.
Sadly, it looks as if the Thai government may not open the country to "normal" foreign visitors until they can prove vaccination. This means that the club's fundraising efforts will be hamstrung well into 2021. While this is bad news, our projects continue. Pour yourself your favorite beverage and enjoy the bulletin, below. You can better view each story by clicking on the story's title where you'll be taken to the story on our website, displayed in a full-page, easy-to-view format.